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, 9 (5), 361-4

Asthma and Psychiatric Disorders in Male Army Recruits and Soldiers

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  • PMID: 17591373

Asthma and Psychiatric Disorders in Male Army Recruits and Soldiers

Raffi Lev-Tzion et al. Isr Med Assoc J.

Abstract

Background: Numerous studies have shown an association between asthma and mental disorders. While elevated rates of asthma have been noted among psychiatric patients with anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder, several studies have found elevated rates of mental disorders among asthma patients. Such studies, however, have generally relied upon questionnaires and assessment by non-specialist physicians to diagnose mental disorders and asthma.

Objectives: To examine a possible association between asthma and psychiatric diagnoses in Israeli military recruits and soldiers.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study we compared the prevalence of mental diagnoses in asthmatic recruits and soldiers with that in non-asthmatic recruits and soldiers. A total of 195,903 recruits and soldiers were examined by Israel Defense Forces recruiting offices and fitness boards. Diagnoses of asthma were based on a pulmonologist's diagnosis, including spirometry at rest and exercise testing as indicated; diagnoses of mental disorders were based on examination by a psychiatrist.

Results: The prevalence of asthma was found to be 7.8% (current) and 9.8% (lifetime). The prevalence of mental disorders was 13.4%. Current asthma was associated with an increased likelihood of any mental disorder (OR = 1.20, 95% Cl = 1.15-1.26), and specifically with mood and anxiety disorders (1.31, 1.19-1.46), introvert personality disorders (1.20, 1.12-1.28) and adjustment disorder (1.43, 1.26-1.62). Lifetime asthma was associated with an increased likelihood of the same disorders, but the association was not as powerful.

Conclusions: The results validate the previously documented association between asthma and mental disorders, using a sample of unprecedented size and improved methodology. A multidisciplinary approach to asthma that incorporates mental health professionals in the treatment of poorly controlled asthma and perhaps of asthma in general is recommended.

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